Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Light Rail Ridership

There are certain unspoken and spoken rules about riding a light rail train.

The Light Rail Seating Rules:
1. Priority seats should be used by people with disabilities and senior citizens. They are located in the center of each train.*
2. If you sit in those seats, watch standing passengers to see if someone is in need.
          "You look old; you need to sit here."
          "I'm not as old as you."
          "You're older."
          "I'm not sitting there."
3. Don't put your feet up on empty seats.* 
4. Don't sit in the aisle seat when the window seat is empty.
5. Don't set belongings in an empty seat. Trains don't have spots for belongings, except bikes.
6. Don't slouch or cross your legs, making it difficult for people to get by you, says Chad in Denver.
7. Don't expect a seat. Light rail trains are not designed to seat everyone or even half the passengers. A full train is mostly standing passengers.

*  Announcements of rules 1 and 3 occur regularly when riding the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis.

If the train is empty, I will sit. Otherwise, I stand, and I move out of people's way. That's my rule. Because to me, I don't care if a seat has a sign on it or not, if someone else should have a seat instead of me, I'd rather leave the seat empty than sit where they should be sitting. And I don't want to make a production out of offering my seat, so I stand. My rule, not others.

Houston has made the news for removing seats. Denver probably could too.

Minneapolis could remove empty seats too, most of the time. Driving empty seats around costs money. And when the trains are full... when leaving the Metrodome after a Vikings game, fewer seats could allow more people to pack in. Not pack as in the Packers...

Light Rail Riders
The Waterloo light rail advocates at Snapsort put together a humorously named infographic LRT For Dummies. Part of the graphic compares train and bus potential ridership by vehicle:

The funny thing is, I've never seen a train pass another train (going the same direction). And cars can't use train tracks when the train isn't there.

The Interstate 94 bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin is now wide enough for car and truck traffic. Take away two lanes for a train. Trains could not compete with the potential traffic carried by the same two lanes, even if only cars drove in those lanes. The opportunity cost of the land (roadway, tracks... private residences) is the potential for mass transit (or otherwise), not the occupancy of vehicles.

Light Rail Advocates on Ridership

Ask light rail advocates if they use the train.
          "No, I wish! The train just doesn't go where I'm going."
          "No, I'm doing this for you."

Right. Not to free up the highway for themselves. They're doing this for me.

And for the Portland, Oregon coyote.

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